Drones and model aircraft

Drones are remote-controlled, usually small aircraft. Legally they are equivalent to model aircraft and are considered to be radio equipment. The number of drones operated commercially and privately in Switzerland is continuously increasing.

The Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) is responsible for the development of aviation and the supervision of civil aviation in Switzerland:

General questions about drones

Drone guide

Drones fall within OFCOM’s area of responsibility with regard to regulation of the frequency spectrum and of radio equipment if they contain a radio transmitter and or receiver

  • Drones must fulfil the legal requirements for spectrum and equipment conformity before they can be offered or may be made available on the market  
  • OFCOM issues licenses for the use of the frequency spectrum by radio equipment and radio networks.

Specialist contact for frequencies and radio licenses:

kf-fk@bakom.admin.ch

Compliance of drones

A drone – provided that it contains a radio transmitter and/or receiver - is a radio equipment. The legal requirements for market access (e.g. offering, selling, hiring, placing on the market) and the conformity of radio equipment are described here.

Information on buying radio equipment abroad for personal use or resale in Switzerland can be found here.

Technical contact for market access and conformity:

ra-mk@bakom.admin.ch

Use of frequency resources

Frequencies are required for command and control applications and for the transmission of user data as well as for traffic information and collision avoidance systems

The available frequencies usually have to be shared with other users. Since no dedicated frequency resources are currently available for drones, interference-free operation cannot be guaranteed. Work is currently underway at the international level to resolve this issue.

Frequency resources for control and communication (command and control) and for the transmission of payload data

Various frequency ranges are available for command and control applications and for user data transmission (ground-to-air/air-to-ground). Their use is subject to specific regulatory framework requirements (radio interface regulations (RIR)):

No license, prior notification or certificate of proficiency is required for the above frequency usage.

Frequency resources for traffic information and collision avoidance

The frequencies used for this purpose are subject to certain regulatory framework requirements (radio interface regulations (RIR)):

No license, prior notification or certificate of proficiency is required for the above frequency usage.

Frequency resources for detection

No frequencies are currently available in Switzerland for the detection of drones. However, work is underway to identify frequencies for this application. As soon as these have been completed, the regulatory framework (radio interface regulations (RIR)) will be defined.

Use of mobile radio frequencies

In the area of mobile radio, frequency usage is in principle limited to terrestrial applications. The extent to which mobile radio frequencies may also be used for communication in airspace has been investigated at the European level. The results were published by the Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) in ECC Report 309 at the beginning of July 2020. This report specifies which mobile radio frequencies may be used in airspace (up to 10,000m) and applies in principle to all airspace users (including drone radio applications).
The results of this report will soon be adopted in a decision by the ECC.

International bodies

ECC WG FM-FM 59 UAS
This working group is investigating ways of evaluating suitable frequencies for command and control applications and for user data transmission, for both commercial and official use.

ITU-R Working Party 5B

This working group is examining, among other things, possibilities of evaluating suitable frequencies for command and control applications in connection with geostationary satellite systems. 

Specialist staff
Last modification 24.08.2020

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